Fifty U.S. Senators call on Dan Snyder, NFL to change Washington Redskins name

By Daniel S Levine,

Half of the U.S. Senate have found something to agree on, signing a letter to the National Football League asking it to force Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team’s offensive name.

Snyder has constantly rebuffed critics and defended the name. However, the Senate believes that after what just happened to the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and Donald Sterling, the NFL should not continue to use such an offensive term for a team.

“The N.F.L. can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” the letter, which was obtained by the The New York Times, reads. It was circulated by Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington and endorsed by Majority Leader Harry Reid. The letter is addressed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Cantwell wrote that, “We are going to find out if the N.F.L. can act against this kind of discrimination as quickly as the N.B.A. did.” She added, “Listen, it is hard to get 50 people in this place to agree on anything.”

Five Democrats did not sign the letter, which wasn’t exactly bipartisan. The Times notes that it was not circulated among Republicans.

“The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” the letter reads, notes NBC Sports. “We urge the NFL to formally support a name change for the Washington football team. . . . We urge you and the National Football League to send the same clear message as the NBA did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports.”

Snyder has refused to change the Redskins’ name, saying that it is meant as a tribute to Native Americans. He has even said that some Native Americans are supportive of the name. But the Senate disagrees, noting that an organization representing 2 million Native Americans consider the name offensive.

“The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image,” the NFL said in a statement to the Times Thursday. “The name is not used by the team or the N.F.L. in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently.”

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